COVINGTON -- A request on Monday's agenda by Mayor Kim Carter for the City Council to hold a work session on the Norfolk Southern rail corridor prior to the end of the year has been delayed until the council's Nov. 21 meeting.
It appears there is already disagreement on the council about the matter, which has been highly contentious each time it's been addressed. The council has voted three times not to pursue purchase of the rail corridor and some members are upset that the matter continues to be brought up for discussion.
In a response to an email from Carter stating that the issue would be moved to the Nov. 21 agenda, Councilman Chris Smith wrote that he will request the item be removed from the agenda: "I believe that we have talked enough about this issue with the present mayor. My hopes is that Kim will pass all the information that she has compiled over the last 4 years ref: the rail to the city manager, he can pass it along to the mayor-elect. We need to be concerned about other issues in our city."
Carter is not seeking re-election; her term expires on Dec. 31.
Carter could not be reached for comment.
Councilman Mike Whatley said he's not yet sure if he will support Carter's request. Janet Goodman said she'll vote as she always has -- in favor of getting more information. Goodman is in favor of purchasing the rail line. She said the comments she's received from her constituents are all favorable.
"I just think it is the right thing to do. We're going to need it down the line," she said.
Meanwhile, Councilman Keith Dalton remains staunchly opposed.
"I hang my hat on fiscal responsibility and this is not fiscally responsible," he said, adding that there are already walking trails available in the city. "This is what a small handful of people want."
A multi-use trail is one option that has been discussed for the rail corridor. Some officials say the property, which runs about 15 miles total and 5 miles within city limits, is needed to save the local government money when purchasing easements for utility relocations and for water pipe installation when Bear Creek Reservoir comes online.
The council voted in August 4 to 1, with Goodman opposed, not to revisit the issue at least through Dec. 31. The council is not allowed to limit discussions of a future council, and there will potentially be new elected officials taking office in January. Carter quickly vetoed the council's decision, and the majority of the council immediately voted to override her veto.